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The Word Guy / Knowledge

Watch the Little Verbies Hatch

"We won't let you Detroit us with taxes and debt."

"Sarah Collins sunscreens husband Ryan on a California beach."

"The unsigned painting had been gifted to the university."

Call it "verbing." Just as medieval alchemists sought to change base ...

Fiends With Benefits

I get by with a little help from my fiends (word fiends, that is) -- the readers who send me delightful dollops of lore, levity and lunacy.

--"Had had" ha-ha -- George Takei emails: "Why is English so much fun? Because this sentence makes perfect...

'An Hotel' Draws Many Reservations

Q: I notice that the word "hotel" is often preceded with the word "an," as in "We searched for an hotel," but I'm confused. Shouldn't it be "a hotel"? -- Dan LaRosa, via email

A: I'll be glad to check into "an hotel" -- and I even have a ...

Words From the Easy-Bake Oven

Given the ease of slipping off a diet, it's not surprising that many phrases for easy tasks involve food: "duck soup," "can of corn," "piece of cake," "cakewalk." But determining the authentic origins of these terms ISN'T as easy as pie.

--duck ...

Countdown to Controversy

If David Letterman can devise top 10 lists, we letter men and women can do it, too. Here are today's Top 10 Usage Controversies.

The use of ...

10 -- "literally" to mean its opposite: "figuratively," e.g., "His arrogance literally killed me." ...

What Hath God 'Fraught'?

Q: Would you please discuss the proper usage of the word "fraught"? I had an English teacher who told us that one should not say, "The inkwell is fraught with ink," but she said "The situation is fraught with danger" is OK. -- Jan Birnie, Enfield,...